Walk Date – 29th January 2018
Distance – 5.2 miles
Weather – some sunshine, some rain and a lot of wind
After a wild and stormy night, during which the wind hurled buckets of rain at the windows, and woke me up a few times, the morning continued in pretty much the same manner. A quick glance out of the window revealed heavy grey skies, rain streaming down the window panes and the bird feeders swinging wildly, all of which seemed to confirm that we were in for yet another day indoors. Since our last walk there has been only one decent day and we were doing something else so couldn’t make use of it. We had been out on the morning of Saturday 27th January to attend the Protest Rally opposing the Thirlmere zip wire planning application. That too was a poor weather day with rain and very low cloud but the event was very well attended despite that, which tells you quite a lot about the strength of feeling that people have concerning these zip wires. As usual I’ve gone off topic so back to today; towards the latter end of the morning we noticed that the rain had stopped and the sky was a couple of shades of grey lighter. We decided to keep an eye on things and if it continued to improve we would have an early lunch and then drive over to Ashness Bridge and take a short walk over to Walla Crag with a return route through Great Wood. We had a very windy and showery walk but there were a few spells of sunshine now and again. Thanks to the abundance of cloud the views were not extensive but I think we had the best of what the day had to offer.
Ashness Bridge – Brown Knotts – Falcon Crag – Walla Crag – Rakefoot – Great Wood – Ashness Bridge
As we turned left up the lane to Watendlath from the B5289 to Borrowdale we noticed that just beyond the turn off there was a Road Closed sign. I checked once I was back at home and it seems that the road will be closed as far as the Grange turn off until 4th February for drainage and re-surfacing work. We parked in the National Trust car park at Ashness Bridge where a couple of cars were already parked. One of them had presented its owner with a flat tyre and he and his mate were busy dragging the spare out of the boot and jacking up the car to change the wheel. Not what you want when you’ve just returned from a walk, or are about to set off on one. Splats of rain, strong winds and muddy ground and you have to change a wheel, been there, done that, hated it! As there were two of them we didn’t think they needed any help and as we were leaving the car park I took this shot looking across the lane towards Dodd, one of the subsidiary tops of Ashness Fell. Across the lane to the left we follow a path beside the wall going up High Strutta and then take another left turn to cross …..
….. this bridge over Barrow Beck and pick up the path across …..
….. the sunlit lower slopes of Brown Knotts while Derwentwater and its western fells remain in the shade. Now that we’re out on the open fellside we are feeling the strength of the north westerly wind and grateful that the break in the weather came too late for us to head for the higher fells.
A little further along and I take a look back to see what’s going on in Borrowdale but all I could see was cloud and the sun’s glare behind it. Across from us is Maiden Moor leading over to High Spy and below us, just visible in the trees, is the Ashness Bridge car park.
Further along Brown Knotts and another look across Derwentwater with Catbells and Causey Pike over on the right. Below us is Barrow House, an elegant Georgian house set beside Barrow Bay, which is home to an independent hostel whose primary aim is to provide affordable access to the Lake District National Park for young people, with an emphasis on adventurous outdoor education. Not a zip wire in sight either. It used to belong to the YHA and was known as Derwentwater Youth Hostel. The YHA put it up for sale in 2011 and it was bought by its current owners who wanted to keep the hostel tradition going rather than have it turned into a high end hotel.
A burst of sunlight over a misty Borrowdale as I take a look back along our route so far. As you can see all the paths are wet and most were running with water so it was more of a paddle than a walk at times.
Further along the slopes of Brown Knotts and another splash of sunshine for us, but with the western side still hidden from the sun by some very dark and heavy clouds which are most definitely heading our way.
We reach Falcon Crag with its splendid views along Derwentwater and Bass Lake. On the right of the shot the sunshine we’ve just been enjoying has gone over to play on the lower slopes of the cloud covered Skiddaw range leaving us listening to the pitter patter of tiny raindrops landing on our jackets. We’re getting the full blast of the wind up here too. Below us to the right is a handgate so we dropped down, passed through it and followed the narrow path across to one of the view points on Falcon Crag.
Falcon Crag as we make our way down to the handgate in the fence.
The rain blows over, the clouds clear the sun and we have some lovely light as we trot across to the viewpoint. The fells across the water are vey indistinct but immediately above the viewpoint is Catbells behind which is Causey Pike. To the right of them on the skyline is Grisedale Pike and the smaller fell below that is Barrow.
Another burst of sunlight over Borrowdale as we make our way over to the viewpoint across the sodden and flattened grasses.
This was as close as Derwentwater got to seeing any sunlight today but at least Lord’s Island, and the little promontory of Stable Hills in front of it, managed to show themselves off in it for a few moments. I had to have J act as a backstop here as the wind was gusting straight at me at this point.
Over to the right the russet trees and slopes of Walla Crag start to glow as the sunlight lands on them, with the path coming up from Cat Gill showing up very clearly amongst the dead bracken.
Standing above the steep and deep cleft of Cat Gill with a view across Keswick to the cloud topped Skiddaw fells …..
….. and a little further to the right is a sunny Walla Crag. Nothing I could do about my long shadow and it would be nice to be as tall as it seems to suggest I am. I wish! We walk back up the slope and rejoin …..
….. the track above Falcon Crag leading over to Walla Crag. We’re getting spit-spotted with rain again and its still blowing a hooley.
Over to our right a view of Bleaberry Fell and Brown Knotts as we battle to walk along in the sideways on wind.
Another view of Walla Crag as we turn to cross one of Cat Gill’s tributaries.
Over on our right the sun lights up Clough Head, on the left, and the long sweep over to the little outcrop of Calfhow Pike and on up to Great Dodd. We were out on a walk up Great Dodd one day in June 2011 and it was not a pleasant place to be. There was no inkling of what awaited us as we walked up from Matterdale and as we hit the top the very cold and gale force wind was shrieking across from west to east and the cloud was so thick we couldn’t see more than a few yards in front of us. We couldn’t hear ourselves speak, even shouting didn’t work as the wind took the words clean out of our mouths. All we could do was hang on to each other as we made our way across to the summit shelter where we hunkered down for a few minutes to get out breath back. It was pointless to attempt to go on any further along and if we had become separated it would have been nigh on impossible to locate each other. All we could do was call it a day and get off the hill as quickly as we could and when we made it, battered and breathless, down to Randerside you wouldn’t have believed it was the same day, no wind and no cloud. It is impossible to look at Great Dodd now and not be taken straight back to that day.
Another look over to Bleaberry Fell and Brown Knotts as we cross over the very wet and soggy area around Low Moss. Its bright enough to the east but there are some very dark clouds gathering to the south and west of us, and that band of cloud on the right is coming straight towards us.
Over the stile and then taking the path over to the top of Walla Crag.
As I cross the stile I took another look along Borrowdale where the rain is already falling …..
….. and it reached us just as we reached the top of Walla Crag and gave us a bit of a soaking.
Through the rain we could just about make out Lonscale Fell and Blencathra on the skyline, the Skiddaw fells have disappeared completely.
We stayed long enough for a shot of the summit cairn with Clough Head and the Dodds on the skyline and then beat a hasty retreat across the quagmire to the stile and the path to Rakefoot beyond it.
As we were making our way down the rain fizzled out, we were sheltered from the wind, and the sun came out to illuminate Latirgg and Lonscale Fell across from us. The paths across the grass were wet and very slippy, the gravelly paths were running with water so we gave both of them a wide berth and walked through the heather and bracken as much as possible.
Looking across the Vale of Keswick with cloud swirling in, out, around and above Blencathra and its buttresses.
The clouds drift away once more, the sun lands on us, Keswick and the lower slopes of the Skiddaw range but the cloud cap still hugs their tops.
More cloud tumbling across Blencathra as we splodge our way to Rakefoot.
Below us is Keswick with Bass Lake and Dodd, on the right, beyond it.
Heading down to Brockle Beck with Blencathra on the left and Pike on the right.
Down at Brockle Beck where we turn left beyond the bridge and walk about 200 yards down the lane as far as …..
….. this turn off which is signposted for Keswick and Great Wood.
The path leads down to this bridge where we re-cross Brockle Beck …..
….. and follow the path alongside a fence with this view of the north western fells across Derwentwater.
The path enters Great Wood and we enjoy a pleasant walk down through the woodland.
A look back up the woodland track as we near the end of it and then take a left turn towards …..
….. the path up Cat Gill. We carry straight on towards Ashness Bridge …..
….. and cross the bridge over Cat Gill.
The path leads us over the more open fellside and below Falcon Crag which we crossed over on our outward leg.
The path above Derwentwater twists and turns, and rises and falls as it leads us back to Ashness Bridge. Its still looking rainy in Borrowdale but then it is supposed to be the wettest place in England.
A quick look back to Derwentwater as we reach the end of the path and despite the gloom its still a lovely view.
Here’s another lovely view, Barrow Beck cascading over the rocks and squeezing itself under Ashness Bridge on its way down to Derwentwater. Amazingly there wasn’t another soul to be seen when we arrived back here and that doesn’t happen very often. We haven’t seen very many people at all today, about three pairs of walkers coming towards us at various points across Brown Knotts and Walla Crag, a couple of young women as we dropped down to Rakefoot, a lady walking her two fox terriers in Great Wood, and a fell runner as we neared the end of the path at Ashness Bridge, so I guess the unsettled weather may have kept people away today. Despite that we enjoyed our little ramble, and it was good to get some proper exercise for my back muscles too instead of simply sitting on a mat and tying myself in knots just to get them back into shape. They’re not fully back to normal yet so the exercise routine continues, ho hum.